Somewhere, a ravenous addict died today 
Friday, 27 May, 2011, 11:49
Posted by Administrator
Wow, that subject line sounds almost a bit too touchy-feely, didn't it? But no, I'm not talking about a drug addict dying in the streets or anything along those lines. No, a little over an hour ago my World of Warcraft subscription expired, and my account can no longer be used to access the game. So, that little crack fiend that runs around my brain has now been deprived of the one thing that has kept him going, and he dropped dead.

To be honest, I don't think it'll take me any time to get used to not logging in for the daily grind. It's not like I logged in every day anyway.

As I had mentioned in my previous post I think I will reestablish my membership when the next expansion is released, so maybe the ravenous addict didn't die ... perhaps he just became a well-adjusted, functioning member of society who has surrounded himself with people who are not addicted to horrible, habit-forming objects.
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The cycle continues 
Monday, 25 April, 2011, 20:17
Posted by Administrator
You may be aware that I am a fan of World of Warcraft. If not ... well, now you are. So it should come as no surprise to you that when the latest expansion was released, I renewed my account and started working on my characters. I now have three at level 85 (the maximum), one at level 62, and three at 45.

Of course, after a while, the grind gets to be a bit tedious. This is why I'm glad I only renewed my account for 6 months, and didn't configure auto-renewal: I cancelled my account again this afternoon. Thus, the cycle of "level, get bored, cancel, wait for next expansion" continues.

My problem with WoW-style games is that there's a limit to how rich the experience can get for the casual player. For example, if you start a new character, you get 20-25 levels out of your starting zones and then the quest lines converge with the rest of your faction. The only major differences occur between factions (e.g. Alliance vs. Horde storylines) and after expansions, hence the cycle.

Incidentally, this is the one thing that bothered me about Borderlands. When I first read about it in GameInformer, it seemed like an excellent idea. The implementation of that idea is pretty good, to be honest. However, there are really only minor differences between character types in Borderlands -- a weapon specialization here, a special ability there -- so gameplay gets repetitive.

With all of this said, I will indeed get back to WoW when (if?) the next expansion is released. My current subscription has about a month left on it, during which time I will try to get my level 62 character up to 85. If I can't ... oh well.
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When Dust Attacks 
Thursday, 21 April, 2011, 01:57
Posted by Administrator
This is a technical post. If you don't understand it, that's okay.

I've seen a lot of strange computer issues. That should come as no surprise, really, since I've worked with these things for more than half my life now.

For example, I ran into an issue with one of the servers at work at the end of last week. It's a mid-range Dell PowerEdge R200 that's coming up on 3 years old now. I got to the office last Friday and the thing wasn't working. Apparently it rebooted itself overnight and didn't feel like getting past the IPMI initialization step. After a quick bit of troubleshooting I determined that the PCI-X/PCIe riser card was the culprit and gave Dell a call. They sent a technician to replace it (which was somewhat annoying, given that I have no problem working in the R200 myself), but he came with the wrong riser -- the one he had was equipped with two PCIe x4 slots. Problem is, the DRAC is PCI, so we kind of needed the PCI-X slot. At any rate, the dual-PCIe riser worked just fine so I figured the original one that shipped with the system was bad. They sent a new one the next day and that was doing the same thing as the original ... so it turned out the motherboard was the problem.

This is the strange thing. The system works without the riser, and it works with one particular type of riser, but not the other. Bit odd.

Today I saw dust kill a system in a way that I haven't seen in quite some time, which is why I was caught off-guard by it. Normally I see a thick layer of dust gather between the fins of a heatsink, which ends up resulting in the CPU overheating and shutting down the system. This was the case in this particular system to an extent; the dust wasn't packed in enough to completely stop the airflow, but the CPU was getting somewhat hot. The machine has two RAM modules in it and, after running a memory test, I initially determined that one of the modules had gone bad. So, per standard procedure, I pulled one of the modules and ran the test on each one individually. The odd thing here was that both passed when they were in the system alone, but when they were in together, the system flat-out didn't work.

What fixed it? Compressed air. I blew some compressed air in the RAM slots and, for good measure, dusted off the modules themselves. After that, the system worked just fine.

So ... yeah. Not a particularly meaningful post, but it seems that odd things have a habit of catching me off guard lately.
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The End of an Era 
Friday, 1 April, 2011, 03:42
Posted by Administrator
My first mobile phone was an Audiovox PCX 1000XL on PrimeCo, faux-wood trim and all. That was mercifully replaced by a Nokia 6185 ... but PrimeCo had pretty bad coverage and, as I had just started dating Julie at the time, I needed better coverage. Thus began my relationship with VoiceStream, which eventually became T-Mobile.

I started off with a blue Nokia 8290 -- the one that Jamie Lee Curtis was showing off in the early ad campaigns. That thing still works to this day. I enjoyed the ability to swap my SIM card into other phones at will, and went through many handsets by many manufacturers, but when phones decided to stop working I always had that trusty 8290 to fall back on.

Then began my Android obsession. I upgraded my T-Mobile plan to include data for the first time in November of 2009 to accomodate this new addiction. I started out with the MyTouch3G, T-Mobile's best at the time, and eventually upgraded to the Google Nexus One.

But ... I do not treat my relationships with businesses the same way I treat my personal relationships. That is to say, I have no problem whatsoever looking at other options when it comes to things like TV service, internet service, or mobile phone service ... and it was only a matter of time before I started thinking about switching from T-Mobile to something else.

No, it wasn't only the announcement that AT&T and T-Mobile had agreed to merge, but it was definitely a factor.

So, tonight, I walked into a Verizon Wireless store and ported my numbers over from the T-Mobile account. I did not feel pain, I did not feel remorse. It actually felt kind of good to say "okay T-Mobile, been great working with you, but i've got a new carrier now." And with that, my Android obsession continues in the form of an HTC Thunderbolt (though the first thing I did was look for a way to turn off SenseUI).

And now I wait ... for some sign of reassurance that I made the right decision :D
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Pics Are Here 
Monday, 21 February, 2011, 00:18
Posted by Administrator
Chicago Auto Show pictures have now been uploaded. If the car you wanted to see isn't there ... well, you should have requested pics before I went last week. It's pretty difficult to run through an Auto Show in 4 hours, let me tell you ... hopefully Mario will be more cooperative next year :)

Click here for the pics or, if you're actually looking at my site, click on the 2011 Chicago Auto Show link to the right.

Enjoy!
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